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Taos Winter Wine Festival

 

The winemaker of the family was asked to represent Kendall-Jackson at the Taos Winter Wine Festival this last weekend in Taos, New Mexico.  Somehow I fangled a companion ticket and got to go along for the ride!  The Wine Festival was held in the town of Taos, about two-and-a-half hours drive from Albuquerque, New Mexico’s largest city.  Irby Wood, one of Kendall-Jackson’s sales representatives and probably the best New Mexico tour guide you could ask for, picked us up from the airport on Wednesday evening and took us through Santa Fe, the state’s capital, on the way to Taos.  We stopped for dinner at a New Mexican restaurant in Santa Fe called La Fonda to sample the local cuisine; very similar to Mexican food, New Mexican food has the addition of hot red or green chile sauce on most of the plates.  La Fonda also boasted some of the best guacamole we’ve ever eaten, it was made from scratch right at our table, so good!  We could definitely venture back to Santa Fe some time for a few more days, lots of restaurants and countless art galleries, as well as the oldest building left standing in the United States.

We were put up by the Taos Winter Wine Festival at an amazing resort called El Monte Sagrado.  As well as being probably the most exquisite resort at which either of us has ever stayed, the hotel also had an eco- twist: they recycle 100% of their grey water, pull their electricity from a solar grid, and use geothermal heat to warm up the rooms in the cold high-desert climate…

El Monte Sagrado
Our rooms on the left at El Monte Sagrado with the New Mexican Rockies in the background
Elk Statue
An Elk statue on the El Monte Sagrado grounds
El Monte Sagrado
The El Monte Sagrado grounds with the New Mexican Rockies in the background

We didn’t spend a whole lot of time in the town of Taos because the Wine Festival was held in the mountains, 30 minutes up the road at Taos Ski Valley.  We did, however, get to eat at in town at Lambert’s, a fantastic game restaurant where we enjoyed pheasant, elk sirloin and beef tenderloin, an amazing meal.  Irby also introduced us to his favorite Taos coffee shop, The Bean, where we stopped for breakfast every morning on our way up the mountain.  Their breakfast burritos, which I unfortunately didn’t sample until the last morning, are pretty bomb.

We were free to ski during the day Thursday through Saturday.  During the evening on Friday all of the wineries attending the Festival gathered for an across-the-board tasting event.  Think ZAP but a lot smaller scale…  There was also a bunch of great food to go with the libations, I took multiple trips to the table with the steer hind quarter pictured below.  I never knew that there were vineyards in New Mexico, but there was a New Mexican winery there, as well as a bunch from California and even a showing from Penfolds and Rosemount.

Wine Tasting
The Kendall-Jackson table at the tasting
Tasting Food
Some of the fantastic food to accompany the wine

Saturday night was the Kendall-Jackson wine dinner, which was held at Rhoda’s Restaurant at the base of the ski hill.  Each course was paired with a Kendall Jackson wine, and the guest winemaker (that’s Mrs. V) did a fantastic job of discussing the specifics of each varietal as they were served.  I wish I’d kept a copy of the menu, talk about good food!

Kendall Jackson Wine Dinner
The setup at Rhoda’s Restaurant
Kendall Jackson Speakers
The Kendall-Jackson superstars

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Now for the skiing…  When I was a teenager I remember sitting on a chairlift with a bunch of instructors in Breckenridge, Colorado and listening to them plan their next trip to ski Taos.  Ski instructors who get to ski free in Breckenridge wanting to drive to Taos to ski?  So ever since sitting on that chairlift I’ve wanted to see what Taos was all about.  It didn’t disappoint…  The mountain isn’t huge when you compare it to places like Vail or The Canyons, but the terrain is a lot of fun and the steepness of the majority of the runs is great.  In addition, the mountain has held out on installing a lift to reach the upper steeps, the only way up is to hike, so the powder stays fresh for a good portion of a powder day if you’re willing to make the hike at 12,000 feet.  We scored some nice powder on Thursday and Friday, when it snowed pretty much all day.  Saturday was clear but still very cold, it gave us a chance to actually visualize the mountain and surrounds that had been cloaked in cloud up until then.  I made the hike to the upper bowls a couple of times, one of the runs was (sorry Steamboat) probably one of the best tree runs I’ve ever done: waist deep powder, super steep, if only it was longer…  Somebody enjoyed their Christmas skis, taking a lesson on Thursday and tearing up the powder by the weekend’s end.

Taos Ski Resort
Taos Ski Valley with the bottom portion of the mountain (Al’s Run) on the right
Irby on the Chairlift
Irby on his way up Al’s Run Lift
Reforma Trees
Skiing the trees on Reforma
Reforma Trees
More powder on Reforma
Oster
The view at the top of Oster while hiking to the Highline Ridge
Donkey and the Highline Ridge
The view of Kachina Peak from the top of Donkey while hiking to the Highline Ridge
Fresh Tracks on Juarez
Fresh tracks down Juarez from the Highline Ridge
Hiking the Highline Ridge
Hiking the Highline Ridge
Hunziker Bowl
Making the most of Hunziker Bowl
Hunziker Powder
Fresh powder in Hunziker Bowl
Taos Ski Valley
Taos Ski Valley
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5 Comments

  1. Che says:

    Nice stuff!

  2. Luke Dog says:

    That looks like some sick pow and a lot of yuppie stuff.

  3. K-UNIT says:

    Work hard, play hard! Looks pretty cold, snow was probably amazing.

  4. Kevin B says:

    Those pics are firing me up, we are going to Park City Sunday – Thursday. The temps are in the low teens, the powder will be perfect!!!

  5. Idaho Young says:

    Great stuff… Skiing and wine.